Digital Content: How to Avoid Paying for Everything

| Particle Debris

The capability of content developers to produce material is increasing exponentially, and the Internet infrastructure grows furiously to keep up. How does one avoid paying for every little thing thrown at us in this mêlée?


The idea must be that if enough content is thrown out there, things like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and a couple of million iOS and Android apps, people will just keep buying stuff and corresponding revenues will rise.

The guiding principle I've always used to fight this assault is Sturgeon's Law. That is, 90 percent of everything is crap. That means that, as an Apple customer, it's not a bad idea to apply your taste in hardware to just about everything else. There's really no other choice.

Along those lines, I saw an article recently that explained the difference between advertising and marketing. If I recall correctly -- and I'm sure I'll be set straight -- is that in advertising you convince the customer to buy what you have for sale. In marketing, you tell the customer about your solution to their problem. Even if this isn't textbook stuff, I think it tells a strong story about what's out there for sale these days.

I tend to look for solutions to problems, and so far, I haven't found that 95 percent of iOS apps solve a real problem. Neither does Facebook. These are things that are hunters. They want to rope you in with a promise and then take your money. Or privacy.

Not everything that's advertised with digital flourish, sound and fury, is a solution to a problem. But it is a furious attempt to take your time and money.

I've discovered that there's, more and more, a right time to drop certain TV shows from the DVR's series list. Some adventure shows just string things out into a second or third season, and you fall into a habit. The excellence is gone, and it's time to move on. Hitting the delete button for a folder full of unwatched shows is a hard thing to do, but it's often necessary.

The soon arrival of the holiday period will creating a crushing load on our time, funds and sensibilities. I know what I'm going to do. Sit back, relax, cook, spend time with friends, and go for the very best of what's offered in my digital world. Time is too precious to do anything else.


Tech News Debris for the Week of November 18

Daniel Eran Dilger has done it again. This time he's looked into the politics and money trail of organizations that report on industry sales of PCs, phones, tablets, etc. This is must reading. "The curious case of IDC, Gartner & Strategy Analytics' PC, phone & tablet data on Apple."

This next article is great because it presents a different viewpoint from a woman writer, Joanna Schroeder. The gist is that while some of us Apple fans love to poke fun at Microsoft TV ads, this ad actually speaks to Ms. Schroeder in an eloquent way. For a glimpse into the other side, check out "Is This Microsoft Commercial the Most Feminist Thing on TV?"

When Apple killed the Xserve, I thought it was a terrible idea. I still do, and I've written why before. In fact, I sold Xserves when I worked for Apple to research organizations. And so I know that at lot of what Thomas Brand says here is a bit off base. Still, he makes some good points, made from the viewpoint of an outsider. I present it here to get a dialog going, and I may yet address his arguments now that I have published a findable link. Meanwhile, what do you think? "Killing the Xserve."

This next one is pretty geeky. It'll be of interest if you want to upgrade an older iMac. And it could be useful just to learn some hardware ins-and-outs. Presented for consideration: "Stayin’ Alive: Upgrading the CPU, Hard Drive, and RAM on a 2006 iMac."

Apple makes a boatload of money, but its stock is stagnant because growth has stalled. Amazon earns no money at all, but is still growing, so investors love them. The contrast between the two business models is explained by Jean-Louis Gassée in his Monday Note: "Amazon and Apple Business Models."

The next article falls into a category which all of us professional Mac writers use from time to time. It's called: We love you Apple, but sometimes you just gotta get a clue. And so, here's a highly recommended read from a luminary in the Mac world, Lex Friedman. "Can't trust this: Inconsistencies shake faith in Apple."

Some of the most compelling articles about Microsoft, of course, come from writers who view the company positively, hope for the best, and really see what it needs to do to move forward. Again, we have an illuminating view from the other side of the fence by someone new on my list of people to follow on Twitter, Jessica Dolcourt. "Nokia buy can't fix Windows Phone's biggest hurdle: Itself."

Are you in the delicious mode of having to decide on purchasing a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air? Here's a great article by Peter Cohen that will help you decide. "MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?"

Will your new Smart TV spy on you? I am sure, after LG is called on the carpet, they'll just say, "Oops. programmer error. No harm, no foul."

Will Apple really, really build a toaster-fridge? Oh, the embarrassment! Most observers, me included, claim that Apple has defined a tablet in its purest form and there never will be a Tim Cook "toaster-fridge." If you haven't heard of all this, read up: "Rumoured 12.9 inch Retina display destined for bigger iPad or iPad-MacBook hybrid?" As for me? It'll never happen.

Here is an intriguing possibility. What if Apple were to offer a kind of super "iCloud Home" Mac-based server for the home office? I think this would be a terrific idea, and I've as much as suggested it before. Here's the intriguing story on a patent Apple has filed. "Could Apple be working on the ‘iCloud Home,’ a Mac-based iCloud server for the home/office?"

John Kirk has developed an effective, charming writing style of sprinkling his essays with quotes that reinforce his commentary at every step of the article. I like it, and of course, the quotes are a great source for us other writers. Like all of John Kirk's work, this is worth a read, "Microsoft: Failing By Design." His last quote is from Bill Gates.

In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself.

I don't know when Bill Gates said that, but it certainly applies to Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's very tardy and failed entrance into the tablet market.

This is one of those long but oh-so informative treatises that looks like it will be a pain to read, but you really should. Federico Viticci is high on my list of people to follow, and so I enthusiastically recommend: "Leaving Google Chrome: Why I’ve Returned To Safari."

Many years ago, at Applelinks, I wrote an article on the important languages one should learn as a beginner. As I recall, C and Perl were on the list. Times have changed, and I think this author is in track with a JavaScript recommendation. "Which Language Should You Learn First?"

However, there is a next step. My wife has been a professional Java developer for a decade, and I can you this. The very next decision you make after you learn programming is to decide on your programming career. C++ is dying. You're either going to do professional programming for the government or the enterprise, and the only right answer in 2013 is all the related Java technologies in concert with Oracle's tools and database technologies. The reason is that Java is no longer just a language to learn. It's a related suite of Java technologies that employers will quiz you on.

Otherwise, you can work in iOS development and learn Objective-C. That's it. Pick one. Anything else you need, as an aside, like Python, Ruby, Perl and/or C can be picked up along the way.

Finally, here's a nicely balanced article by a fellow who made the intentional transition from an iPhone 4 to a Nexus 5. I won't tell you ending: the journey will be the reward. "Here's what happened when an iPhone loyalist tried a Nexus 5."


Human time and hourglass images via Shutterstock.

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Lee Dronick

  For a glimpse into the other side, check out “Is This Microsoft Commercial the Most Feminist Thing on TV?”

For some reason the video was removed from Youtube. I will check at MicroSoft’s website.

  Here’s a great article by Peter Cohen that will help you decide. “MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?”

Last month I took my friend shopping at the Apple Store. She had an antique 386 or something at home, with dial up internet service. She bought a 11” MacBook Air, she travels a good bit and it suits her better than an iPad. Now she is shopping for home broadband service.




I enjoyed the read by Dilger. This is pretty much what I had assumed to be the case, that the industry, and the market research firms that serve it, had aligned to maintain the status quo: that the big OEMs and MS continue to substantially dominate the PC market. There is no computer more personal than an iPhone, yet, because you can make calls on it, it is listed as a phone, rather than a computer that runs applications; or the iPad that, by every indicator, is stealing marketshare from PCs. If something competes with a thing in the marketplace, it seems foolish, or wilfully blind (a euphemism for the former) to not acknowledge it in one’s market analytics, particularly when its eating your lunch.

Some of this, too, may be little more than CYA politics. The likes of John Dvorak and others having weighed in on Apple’s failed business strategy and resulting irrelevance, and Wall Street having acted on this narrative, what else is a market research industry to do? Continue the narrative, that’s what; and just make sure that the numbers add up. That this same approach has been extended to Android marketshare, I believe, has less to do with Google and Android, per se, than it has with Apple, and the narrative of irrelevance and minuscule marketshare. That it tops the world’s most valuable company list (certainly tech companies, even if it trades places occasionally with Exxon) is an anomaly - a distraction that can be ignored or explained away as over-valuation.

FWIW: the ‘Killing the Xserve’ piece, as written, is plausible and internally consistent, whether or not it’s true. I, for one, lack the professional and technical expertise to independently comment on its veracity.

Regarding Jessica Dolcourt’s piece, I’m not convinced that even a more sophisticated OS can help MS’s phone business. It’s now a question of perception, rightly or wrongly. The perception is now that MS have missed the boat, and are thrashing about in deep water. Deep frigid water. Without a life vest. At least, insofar as their phone business is concerned; and that, as an enterprise or, more importantly, personal consumer device, it affords a very limited array of options and solutions that solve too few problems. This is my read of the commentary. I don’t know how an OS swap changes that perception, per se. It certainly didn’t when Nokia jettisoned Symbian. Of course, they did so in order to embrace Windows, but still, their marketshare continued to erode into the nether regions. I further find her analysis to lack a recognition that, as ‘cool’ as Nokia once was, its hardware offerings, irrespective of supporting OS, were never competitive in the smartphone space post iPhone Gen 1. Again, I fail to see how a mere OS change can alter that trajectory. This conjures the image of a monkey missing its branch and latching onto a dead bird falling from the sky, and hoping it will fly him to safety. I leave it to you to decide which is the dead bird and which the monkey, but you get the point.

As for the iCloud server piece, I’m hoping that this is true. I’ve turned a number of professional colleagues onto the Transporter, despite my having not yet purchased one myself. The concept, however, of a reliable cloud storage solution, where you can either trust or entirely control access to your files, is compelling, although I am not certain that the enterprise will see Apple’s solution in that manner.

At any rate, great picks, John. Always an education, and a pleasant way to round out the weekend.


RE: Dilger on Strategy Analytics, IDC & Gardner “influencing consumer behavior and buying preferences.”

Where is the actual, factual stats? Even TMO reports the bilge that these firms spew. Someone must change the narrative before perceptions change.

For starters, every time one of these tainted firms’ garbage appears on TMO, you folks should clearly condemn the highly biased, unreasonable bs they present. And probably quote real market share figures.


RE: iCloud

Apple does need to bring iCloud services up to snuff (Dropbox level or better) and they need to do it yesterday. If buying Dropbox is too pricey for Apple, they should try to hire Dropbox engineers, and then LISTEN to them.

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